The one defining factor of the Caribbean, aside from the bright blue skies and hot, sunny days, is the shimmering turquoise waters that surround each and every island that make up this destination. Truly the only way to really explore the jewels of the Caribbean, to take everything in and get a taste for the real flavour of this relaxed and laidback destination, is to look at Caribbean cruises.

Here are our top features of the Caribbean that you can take in while visiting on a cruise:

For laidback sun worshippers: Brandons Beach, Barbados

On Barbados’ much-famed, oft-photographed Platinum Coast sits Brandons Beach. This is so loved by cruisers as it’s only a short but leisurely walk from Bridgetown’s cruise port, has exceptionally calm waters and shady spots under beach-side trees. It’s a peaceful, sandy beach that’s perfect to take the weight off your feet and relax in the sun, dipping your toes in the sea to keep cool.

For the fit & active: Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas

The only way to take in a Caribbean cruise is aboard their very own cruise liners: Royal Caribbean are an innovative cruise company that are forward thinking and have excellent cruise deals for every budget and lifestyle.

If you’re looking for fun and activities during your cruise, the Freedom of the Seas runs a route through the Southern Caribbean, taking in Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Kitts, and has excellent facilities on board including a fully comprehensive fitness centre, a jogging track, and sports courts. Other Caribbean ships also offer rock climbing walls, ice skating, dance classes and more.

Even when you dock, the fit and active won’t be able to stay on land long – the plethora of water sports this route has to offer mean that you’ll be taking to the sea again within minutes. Try a snorkelling excursion, jet skiing or even kiteboarding for excellent views back over sandy beaches, lush tropical rainforests and crystal clear waters.

For foodies: Anguilla

The British territory of Anguilla is only 35 square miles, but it really packs a punch; for what this island lacks in size, it brings it all back in food. It’s renowned as being the culinary capital of the Caribbean, and it hasn’t earned this title for nothing. There are more than 100 restaurants on this tiny land mass, many of which are headed up by new and emerging chefs dealing in innovative and inventive cuisine, as well as some old favourite flavours.

The island itself is relatively unknown, making it something of a hidden gem. Its flavours are inspired by its rich and varied culture with dishes inspired by native Caribbean tastes, French, English and African influences on dishes. There are multiple French bakeries, bayside grills overflowing with fresh seafood, and punchy fresh creole spices thrown onto freshly caught fish.

For culture & history: St. Kitts

The Caribbean islands are renowned for being packed full of history and culture, with influences from various nations around the world who have held ownership of them at different times. Whichever Caribbean island you land on, you’ll find it full of historical centres to visit and blended cultures that are all their own.

St. Kitts has a history that goes back hundreds of years, from 1630, when the British had estates and fortresses on the island, sugar cane plantations and inns. These are part of a World Heritage Site today – the Brimstone Hill Fortress is a national park with panoramic views, or you can visit the working scenic railway or the ruined Wingfield Estate.